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The 8 Best Places to Catch Your Breath at Disney

Everyone loves a Disney theme park vacation. It’s a magical experience for millions of guests each year. A day at the park can also be a bit trying. The massive crowds, vast amounts of walking, and frustrating hours spent waiting in line can wear on a person. Sometimes, you need a break from the fury. Here are eight of the best places to catch your breath at Walt Disney World.

Playing with the animals

Image: DisneyIn 1998, Disney opened a theme park that doubled as a functional zoo. Three years later, they introduced a hotel with an identical concept. When visitors walk out the back door of the lobby at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, they'll find several species of exotic animals frolicking outside.

By spending time here, you'll receive many of the benefits of spending the day at Disney's Animal Kingdom. You won't have to fight the traffic, though. This place gets only a fraction of the daily traffic as its accompanying park. Even the hotel guests seem content to watch the animals from their hotel rooms rather than up close.

The Animal Kingdom area already feels like it’s on an island from the rest of the Disney campus, meaning you’ll have the hotel animals almost to yourself when you spend time here. You’ll feel like a zookeeper, only without any of the aggravating responsibilities.

Walking on the beach

Image: DisneyOne of the most brilliant aspects of the Walt Disney World campus is that it recreates environments from other popular vacation destinations. To wit, Orlando is a landlocked city, yet you’ll find plenty of beaches on the Disney campus. Some of them are manmade while others are natural due to lakes (formerly swamps) in the area.

When you’re stressed, the relaxing sensation of sand between your toes is a marvelous way to unwind. The perfect place to experience this feeling is on a stretch of land between Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa and Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. A walkway connecting the two resorts is right by the water. You can walk the beach between two of Disney’s most luxurious resorts. It’s a serene atmosphere that’s wholly disconnected from the intensity of a park visit.

Riding a boat-car

Image: DisneyOne of the oddest entertainment options at Walt Disney World is available at Disney Springs. A restaurant called The BOATHOUSE proudly proclaims that they have something that nobody else in the world does. They operate Amphicars each day.

What’s an Amphicar? You know when James Bond drives his car into the ocean and then keeps driving? His car becomes a boat. This idea isn’t fictional. For a brief time during the 1960s, Amphicars seemed like the future of transportation. For no apparent reason, the decision-makers at The BOATHOUSE picked the least reliable vehicles from that era and punched them up to the point that the Amphicar fleet is the only one of its kind on planet Earth.

Riding an Amphicar is momentarily disorienting, as human instinct is to fear the thought of a car heading into a lake. Once the vehicle stops driving and starts sailing, the experience is inimitable. You'll spend 15 minutes floating past some of the most dazzling sights at Disney Springs. Plus, you'll be looking at them from a previously impossible perspective. An Amphicar ride isn’t cheap, but it’s the most original way to catch your breath at Walt Disney World.

Pro tip: wear a hat. On sunny days, the direct light can be a bit much.

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